‘When people start criticism, the government stops extrajudicial killings for certain months and then resume it’
Rights body Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) has observed that the number of extrajudicial killings decreased in the outgoing year of 2020, but it does not indicate that the phenomenon has stopped.
Since former army major Sinha Md Rashed Khan had been shot dead in police firing at a police checkpost in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf marine drive road, there were a lot of criticism which forced the authorities to temporally halt the crossfire incidents, according to the ASK.
"The practice was also noticed before. When people start criticism, the government stops extrajudicial killings for certain months and then resume it," said Nur Khan, secretary general of the ASK.
According to the rights body, a total of 188 people fell victim to crossfire, encounter or gunfight with law enforcement agencies in 2020. Of them, 112 were killed in the name of anti-drug drive.
The ASK recorded that 11 more people died in law enforcers' custody in 2020.
Besides, five more died even before they were shown arrest by the police and eight were shot dead.
The human rights organisation also opposed the appointment of former bureaucrats to different commissions including Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The rights watchdog disclosed its human rights report of 2020 at a webinar on Thursday.
It observed that human rights situations have worsened in the outgoing year during the Covid-19 outbreak and space for freedom of expression has become more squeezed.
Addressing the webinar, ASK Secretary General Nur Khan Liton said the government influences retired bureaucrats appointed to many vital posts. The bureaucrats enjoy many facilities from the authorities, and so, they cannot act properly.
The annual human rights report showed that freedom of expression suffered the most in 2020 as the Digital Security Act (DSA) suppressed critical voices.
The ASK recorded at least 129 cases under the DSA where 268 were sued while many were arrested even in the middle of the nights immediately after lodging cases against them.
Opposition BNP was barred from holding rallies and their leaders and activists suffered harassment and arrests over different arson cases, observed the organisation.
The report showed that the border killing continued despite the Indian Border Security Force's repeated assurance of zero border killing.
A total of 42 Bangladeshis were shot dead while seven more were tortured to death by the BSF in the year marking it as one of the worst in the category.
With 1,627 rape and gang-rape incidents and over 200 more sexually harassment cases, the year was one of most insecure for women, according to the report.
ASK Executive Director Golam Monowar Kamal, senior Deputy Director Nina Goswami and senior Coordinator Abu Ahmed Foyjul Kabir, among others, spoke at the programme.
The rights activists said it is the government responsibility to uphold human rights and dignity, or else they would continue waging protest against any deteriorating rights situation.